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Myths & Realities about Your B-School Application Essays

A great post from our friends at Enjoy!

MBA essay preconceived notions – BEGONE! Now’s the time to learn the FACTS about b-school applications, the essay secrets that will translate your thoughts from a mush of meaningless, monotonous, dribble into persuasive, personal prose that convinces the adcom that you’re a must-have candidate for their next top b-school class.


MBA Application Essay Myth #1:Essays aren’t actually read by real people, but by machines.

Reality: If essays were run through machines, then all you’d need to do would be to construct a string of keywords that would match up with the computer’s algorithm for success. If only applying to b-school were so easy! Since your essays will be read by people, though, then you’ll need to actually convince real readers of your initiative, stellar leadership skills, and outstanding creative mind; you’ll need to do more than simply stuff business lingo into a 300-word document.

What you’ll need to do is show the admissions committee that you are a leader who belongs in management, and not just tell them. They want to be moved by your stories; they want you to demonstrate that in addition to your leadership and organizational skills, you also have integrity and compassion. In short, since your essays will be read by humans, you’ll need to illustrate those things that human readers care about – your humanity, your talents, and your ability to enhance the reputation of their school.


MBA Application Essay Myth #2: Admissions is an objective process determined by stats and quantitative measures.

Reality: If acceptances were based on objective criteria alone, then there’d be no need for subjective essays, and an application would be reduced to a simple compilation of test scores, grades, and a list of ranked, extracurricular activities. Essays are required, however, which shows that the judges plan on using subjective measures in addition to the objective ones. Past accomplishments, merits, and good stats certainly work in your favor, but there’s nothing like a good essay to flesh out an application and reveal the character traits schools value.

Remember, your essays are read by people, not machines, and these people are reading your essays – not your test scores and resume – to see whether you’d be a good FIT for the b-school mosaic that will become the next class in their program. To truly stand out, you’ll need more than stats.


MBA Application Essay Myth #3: Your essays should portray you as a perfect, flawless human being.

Reality: Please do not write about who you WISH you were instead of who you actually are. Your essay is a human interest story; the topic is YOU – the REAL you. Admissions readers want to know who you are, with your flaws and challenges and your strong desire to improve your flaws and overcome your challenges. Of course no one wants to read a laundry list of weaknesses and your essays are not confessionals, but they should be filled with real-life anecdotes about you. You as you actually are, you with your real and honest, rich experiences and achievements. Leave the imaginary you for your dreams…or your grandparents.

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